The Heltzel effect


From the Autumn 2016 edition

‘Rudolf Heltzel since 1966,’ an exhibition of work by the eponymous jeweller, will run at the RHA Gallery from 3 – 6 November. Rudolf Heltzel came to Ireland fifty years ago, at the invitation of the Irish Export Board, to work in the Kilkenny Design Workshop with the brief of improving design and industry practices in Ireland. He has lived in Kilkenny ever since and his stature and influence within the small world of Irish jewellery has been immense. For this exhibition, Heltzel has made two collections of pendants: Rock Crystal Treasure Cave and Tourmaline Butterflies. Both collections respond, as is characteristic of his work, to individual stones with carefully designed settings that show them to their best advantage. The stones themselves are extraordinary and the settings are executed using traditional techniques in 18ct yellow or white gold and set with precious gemstones. Eddie Shanahan writes: ‘The designs of the pendants are dictated by the aesthetics of the unique stones used, their realization honed through an equally unique personal skill.’ The rock crystal collection comprises nine abstract pendants that centre around clear quartz crystals while the nine tourmaline butterflies are figurative and playful. As well as matching tourmaline wings (a rare thing in gemstones), the butterflies are set with sapphires, rubies, diamonds and rainbow moonstones.

See also: Showing his mettle from the Winter 2009 edition of the Irish Arts Review.